Congratulations! You’ve decided to go back to college and get your degree. I know it was a big decision and will pay off for you in the long run. You will see the difference a degree can make for your career.
Right now, though, as the start of school approaches, you may be feeling a little more nervous than excited. If it’s been a while since you’ve been in a classroom, your study skills may be a little rusty. So let’s polish them up with these ten great study tips.
1. Create a study space
Trying to study in front of the TV wasn’t a good idea when you were a kid and it still isn’t. Find a comfortable spot away from distractions to dedicate to studying. Make it comfortable and appealing so it isn’t painful to study. Also, make sure you have the supplies you will need so you don’t have to go searching around for a notepad or computer cord.
2. Use a planner
I have depended on a planner for years. Trying to track multiple schedules, projects and priorities would be a nightmare without somewhere to keep it all organized. A planner helps make sure nothing falls through the cracks. There are lots of paper or online options, find one that works for you.
3. Schedule study time
You’ve created your space and have a planner to organize your time, now schedule in study time on a regular basis. To be successful, you need to make your education a priority, so set aside time every day or every other to study and get homework done. Making it a part of your routine helps make it a habit.
4. Keep up with your classes
It can be so easy to fall behind and so painful to catch up. There will be times when you don’t feel like studying or something comes up that you’d rather do and next thing you know, it’s class time and you haven’t done the reading for this week. Now you need to find more time in your schedule to do last week and this week’s reading, and we know that won’t be easy to do. Schedule your study time and stick to it.
5. Start your homework right away
Chances are, your mom’s not going to be checking to see if you have done your homework — that responsibility is up to you now. Even if it’s not due right away, start your homework now. The thoughts are fresh in your head so put them down on paper right away. Too many times I’ve seen students put off projects and then either not have the time to do them right or not complete them at all. Start homework right away so you have the time to polish it and show your skills.
Paper, laptop or app, there are many options and you can choose which works best for you. Write down the key points during lectures, labs and your reading. Figure out your learning style — do you remember more when you see something, hear it or do something with it? There is one way that is most effective for you. Combining two or more styles can be even better. Taking notes makes you do something with the things you hear or read and helps establish those key points in your mind. Notes will also come in handy when it’s time to study for an exam.
7. Go beyond the textbook
Many textbooks include online resources to add to your experience. Textbook websites may have videos, quizzes and interactive resources to give you more ways to study the material.
8. Listen actively and ask questions
In class, take part in discussions and ask questions. If you have a question, chances are someone else does too. Feedback helps the instructor see that you are getting the material or that they need to change things up. Getting to know your instructor can also be a great contact for the future.
9. Join a study group
Build your professional network with your classmates as well as gain insights from their experience and perspectives. If you are struggling in a class, find out if there is tutoring available. It’s your education and career — be proactive and use the resources available.
10. Test yourself before exams
If your study skills are rusty, chances are your test taking skills are too. Review the readings, your notes and any online quizzes before an exam. Ask yourself what questions you would put on an exam and make sure you can answer them.
Deciding to go back to college was a big decision, but that was the easy part. Successfully completing your program takes time and effort. Follow these study tips to make the journey easier.